Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Monster Jam - 2014

Spring brings lots of things and in our house one of those things is Monster Jam. We usually start scouring their schedule in December or January to see when its coming to Raleigh so we can make our plans. We took Grant to see his first Monster Jam event when he was about 1 1/2 and since then it's been a yearly thing for us. We got our tickets early in March and the event was the weekend before Easter. All week we were reminding Grant about what we were doing and was so excited. 

So of course, he had to stay home sick the day before with a nasty cough...and of course we had to go to the doctor who put him on breathing treatments and an antibiotic for a sinus/ear infection. And of course he had an allergic reaction to that antibiotic that landed us in the ER Friday night. But thankfully, it wasn't bad and they got him fixed up quick and he seemed to feel great Saturday morning so the decision was made to go to Monster Jam.


Monster trucks used to be #1 in Grant's little heart but over the last two years he's been into other things too. So Monster Jam isn't watched at home like it used to be (though he still loves his truck toys!) which made me surprised at how excited he was to be going. He was so excited he couldn't nap or even sit still while we got ready. I heard him say to Husband at one point "Are you ready to go? If you're not ready to go, we're gonna leave you!" It was making me more excited to take him :)

Madusa, Hooked, Stone Crusher, Crusader, Monster Mutt, and Grave Digger
Raleigh is one of their smaller events, so as always there were only 6 trucks - but some favorites of Grant's and he even knew some of the drivers.

Wheelie Competition:

Crash! Grant was so excited :)



I think Stone Crusher won that part.
Then they had a new competition that I don't remember what it was called and then the racing. Which is not really much of a race...but very exciting if you're 3 1/2.


After the racing they do a break to set up for the Freestyle Competition...which is really what everyone comes to see. In the PNC arena they can't do all the fancy stuff they show on TV but they do manage some pretty impressive jumps.

Too interested in the action for pictures!
Freestyle:
Madusa (I don't like that one)
Monster Mutt - my favorite!
Another crash!
Stone Crusher
Grave Digger is a fan favorite around here, so he goes last always.
And he crashed too!
This year was action packed if you like crashes...and what little boy doesn't? (No one was hurt, so that's good.) This was the first year that Grant sat in his seat. He was too scared the first year and last year he couldn't really see from there, but this year was just right :) We had such a good time watching him get so excited. I'm so glad he felt better so we could go. We have a "someday" idea that we'll take him to one of the big events at a stadium when he gets a little older (if he's still so into it). 

Monday, April 14, 2014

DIY Indoor Sandbox

One night recently, Grant and I had a date night. He gets to pick where we eat on our date nights and that is almost always Cracker Barrel. On our way through the maze of knick-knacks Grant likes to touch things. Things that are not exactly kid-friendly items. One of the employees there heard me asking Grant not to touch the ugly table-top fountain he was seconds away from dipping his fingers into and pointed out something he could play with. I am not a patient person when I'm hungry, but I humored her. It was this tiny sandbox with weird sand that played like wet sand complete with mini sand toys. He played, he thought it was great, and I entertained the idea of adding it to his Easter basket...until I saw it was $15.

This past Friday, Grant was home sick. Even when he's sick, he rarely acts sick so he always wants to go outside. I remembered something I had read on Pinterest that was a little like that mini sandbox thing at Cracker Barrel AND I had all the stuff to make it.



I found this "recipe" from Growing a Jeweled Rose on Pinterest and I had all the stuff on hand. Except a container for it but a quick search of my kitchen brought up my largest Rubbermaid container. I figured it would do until I bought something else.


Sticky Sand
  • 5 cups play sand
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
That's it. You just put all those ingredients in a container and mix it up until it's all combined. It took a little elbow grease to get the lumps out. At first I was skeptical but it wasn't long until it looked just like the picture I saw and it plays just like wet sand. I got out one of Grant's cups and a spoon for a shovel and he happily played at the table with that for quite a while.





He only made a minimal mess with it but it was really easy to clean up.

Later on after his doctor appointment we went to Target to pick up some prescriptions (one of which he had an allergic reaction to that landed us in the ER Friday night) so I grabbed a bigger bin for the sand too. I ended up making a second batch of the stuff and added some sand toys we had in the garage. He pretty much thought it was the best thing ever. Saturday morning as soon as he woke up, he was asking to play with his sand box. Since I had the stuff on hand (minus the bigger bin) it cost next to nothing. The bin at Target was $6. The play sand you can find at a home improvement store, if you don't already have it, for around $3-$5 per bag. And you can make a ton! I'm so glad I gave this a try instead of getting the little kit we saw.

Saturday morning: Iron Man and his sandbox.
Source: Growing a Jeweled Rose

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Recipe: PW's Tortellini Primavera

I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman's site last week and it immediately went on my menu for the week. Then I ran out of steam toward the end of the week...so I made it this week. I thought the combination of pasta and fresh veggies would be a tasty spring meal and it was! Even Grant ate it.




Tortellini Primavera

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 whole medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 whole carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower, broken or cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 8 whole basil leaves, chopped
  • 3/4 cup cooked ham, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Extra Parmesan & basil for serving
  • 1 pound cheese (or spinach) tortellini
Directions:
  1. Cook tortellini a couple of minutes less than package directions call for. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir to cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the carrots and cauliflower, stir, cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the wine and broth, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid reduced some.
  5. Add in cream and Parmesan cheese, stir. 
  6. When mixture is hot, add the peas, ham, salt, and pepper. Allow them to heat up in the sauce. When the sauce is hot, stir in the cooked tortellini.
  7. Taste test your seasonings and add more if necessary. Serve with extra Parmesan and basil, if desired.
Recipe Source: The very awesome Pioneer Woman


Notes/Suggestions:
  • The above recipe is PW's original recipe. I didn't use wine or basil. We don't keep wine of any sort around this house so I substituted more chicken broth in place of the wine. I thought it tasted fantastic. And I just don't like basil but if you do, I bet its very tasty on this dish. But if you're like me and you don't like it, your dinner will not be ruined by the absence of basil.
  • I highly recommend checking out the recipe on PW's site. Not only are there, as usual, step-by-step pictures but also a list of things she recommends as add-ins for this dish. I added 3-4 ounces of cream cheese since she suggested it (which I added at the same time as the cream and Parmesan). It was great!
  • Next time I'll thaw my peas. I was leery of the peas anyway because...well, they're peas. However, this pea hater ate every pea on her plate because they were so yummy in this dish...just a bit too crunchy. Your cauliflower & carrots may be crunchy too but I'm good with that.
  • Ham! Oh how I love ham. I used pre-diced ham since this was going to be a weeknight meal and I wanted to cut down on prep. I chose the smaller diced pieces but they ended up sort of disappearing into the dish. Next time, I'd go with larger pieces or just buy ham steaks and chop them myself.
I've never made a PW recipe that I didn't like or that turned out bad. Check out her stuff, she's awesome! 
ENJOY!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Three Bears Acres - 2014

Saturday was a gorgeous day. And our weather has been a little unpredictable so we took advantage of the sunny day by using some groupon tickets we had to Three Bears Acres. We went there last year too and Grant had such a good time that when discount admission was offered again, I couldn't pass it up. 

Grant was pumped and seemed to remember some of the stuff to do there. Of course, once we got there and he was surrounded by everything, his toddler ADD kicked in and he didn't know where to start. It was more crowded than on the day we went last year but the space is so open that we didn't really even notice it.

We ended up at the paint wall first. Which was also when I realized I had no memory card in my camera. So these are all iPhone pictures.



Between the paint wall and the sandbox, I think Grant would have been happy staying right around there for the rest of the day. I tried to coax him over to the jumping pillow but it was loaded with people. So we hit the rolling tubes.

Look at that hair from the static!
 What happens when your kid asks you to get in the rolling tube with him? Well, you get in and make Husband push it of course!

Static everywhere! I love this picture :)
We plopped on a bench for a minute after that and Grant headed to the sandbox. He could play in the sand/dirt/whatever all day and not ever get bore, I swear.


Tennis ball slingshots:


And then we said the magic word: S-L-I-D-E. Back in the wooded area they have a huge toboggan slide. When we got over there we found out they were having to wet it down. I guess the sleds go better when its wet and with it being a warm day, it dried out quick. Since Grant doesn't get the concept of "this won't be finished for 20-30 minutes" he said he'd like to wait. Thank goodness he's easily distracted at places like this. On to the tree houses!




While trying to convince Grant that it was a good time to eat the picnic lunch I'd packed, we noticed the slide was up and running. Eating went out the window.

Its just safer if I go to, right?
A few times down the slide and we had to re-fuel. So we had a picnic in the back of the truck and rested up a little then headed back in for more fun.

Finally the jumping pillow! 
And back to the tree houses. They have lots of fun
stuff hanging underneath them too.


His favorite swing by far! These are hard
to get time on. Parents don't seem to like
encouraging their kids to share.
We were headed out after that but we had to pass the slide the leave. And it's hard to say no to "Can I please slide again? Please? Please? Please?" So we - Husband was apprehensive about this - let him hit the slide alone.


He didn't go as fast without my big butt for weight.
We had such a great day out there. I love how much Grant loves to play outside and we had so much fun watching him re-explore this place.


Side note: If you stumble upon this post and it makes you want to check out Three Bears Acres, I mention some things in my post last year (link in the beginning of this post) that still stand. Pack food because there aren't restaurants nearby and still only a small concession trailer at the park. They have more things to do that I didn't mention here because we didn't get to them. Also, some things are under construction - like bathrooms so be advised they use port-a-potties. Just a friendly warning :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Recipe: Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is one I've had my sights on for a while but I was slightly intimidated by it. Now that I've made it, I'm not sure why because it was pretty easy...and REALLY good! I found this recipe for Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin on Pinterest. There seem to be a gazillion verstion of this but that link is for the one I used specifically.




Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin


Meat:
  • 2 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic; crushed
  • 1/2 water
Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Instructions:
  1. Mix together the seasonings: sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub the mixture over tenderloin(s). Pour 1/2 cup water in crockpot and put tenderloin(s) in crockpot.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. An hour before the meat is finished, mix together the ingredients for the glaze in a small sauce pan: brown sugar, cornstarch, balsamic vinegar, water, and soy sauce.
  4. Heat over medium heat and stir until mixture thickens (she says about 4 minutes). Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. For a more caramelized crust: remove from crockpot and place on aluminum lined baking pan, glaze, and set under broiler for 1-2 minutes until bubbly and caramelized. Repeat 2-3 more times until desired crust is achieved.
  5. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.
Recipe Source: Laura's Sweet Spot


Notes/Suggestions:

  • I made this exactly as the recipe said but my pork tenderloins (it was a package of two) were about 2.5 lbs. It still turned out great.
  • I glazed mine in the crockpot and caramelized it under the broiler. I was really afraid to burn it so I didn't leave it in there as long as I should have. Next time - I will be making this again - I'll be a little braver with the broiler.
  • The glaze is awesome! Not too sweet. Husband wanted to stick a fork in each end of one of the tenderloins and just gnaw the outside off like corn on the cob.
  • Reheated pretty well for lunch the next day :)
  • Kid tested, kid approved!
ENJOY!



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